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CLEAN AIR ACT ConocoPhillips will pay $525M to settle lawsuit Washington (AP)-ConocoPhillips has agreed to install $525 million in pollution controls at nine refineries and pay a $4.5 million fine to settle a federal lawsuit alleging Clean Air Act violations. The settlement requires ConocoPhillips, the nation’s third-largest oil company, to reduce yearly emissions of nitrogen oxide by more than 10,000 tons and sulfur dioxide by more than 37,100 tons. Both can cause serious respiratory ailments and worsen cases of childhood asthma. The refineries covered in the agreement with the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and five states, represent 10% of the nation’s refining capacity. HAZARDOUS WASTE Insurers to pay California $93M for cleanup costs Los Angeles (AP)-California has won a $93 million settlement with 16 insurance companies over cleanup costs at a notorious hazardous waste site. Lloyd’s of London will pay $49 million of the settlement. Stringfellow Acid Pits was a dumping ground for 35 million gallons of liquid hazardous waste between 1956 and 1972. Cleanup has been under way since 1975 at the site in Riverside County. The dispute between California and the insurers involved numerous insurance policies the state had purchased to cover potential liability. In a 1998 decision, the state was found liable for the cleanup based on findings that it had negligently investigated, designed and operated the site during the 1950s and 1960s, and then failed to address the pollution in a timely manner. California sued more than 30 insurers to get them to honor their policies; 19 remain defendants in a case scheduled for trial in March. MINING EPA, mine reach $60M deal over Superfund site Salt Lake City-The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a mining company have reached a $60 million agreement for cleanup in the historic mining town of Eureka, Utah, on the Superfund’s national priorities list since 2002. Eureka-based Chief Consolidated Mining Co. will pay the government 15% of its net income above $2 million per year. The company will also provide in-kind payment in the form of soil and fill material to help affected homes and businesses and to cap mine waste piles at the Juab County site. Chief Consolidated Mining also will compensate the EPA for cleanup by selling off some of the 19,000 acres it owns in Utah. The mines have been closed since 1957. NEGLIGENCE Riggs Bank fined $16M for dubious transactions Washington (AP)-Riggs Bank pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of failing to report suspicious transactions in the accounts of foreigners, and agreed to a $16 million fine for what federal prosecutors called “systemic misconduct.” The Justice Department has been investigating the Washington-area bank’s handling of some foreigners’ accounts, including those held by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and officials of Teodoro Obiang’s regime in Equatorial Guinea. Last May, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency fined Riggs $25 million for alleged violations of anti-money laundering laws. Prosecutors said that the deceptions used by Riggs to conceal Pinochet’s ownership of assets included dummy offshore companies and alteration of his name on some of his accounts. Riggs also helped Obiang set up an offshore shell corporation that took in deposits of more than $11 million in dubious transactions. PRODUCTS LIABILITY Store pays $15M to child maimed by escalator St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP)-Dillard’s Department Stores has agreed to pay $15 million to a girl who lost three fingers when her hand got jammed in an escalator. Attorneys for Kerriana Johnson, now 7, said managers of Dillard’s knew the escalator was dangerous and set up a sham company to make it appear to regulators that it was being maintained. Five-year-old Kerriana lost her fingers as she tried to free her stuck shoe from the escalator during a shopping trip with her mother and two siblings. More than 80 people had had shoes or clothing caught in the down escalator at the Tyrone Square Mall store since 1998. TRADE SECRETS Chip makers settle theft suit for $175 million San Francisco-A Chinese chip maker has agreed to pay Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. $175 million to settle a trade secrets theft suit. The settlement dismisses litigation that was pending between Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. of Shanghai, China, and Taiwan Semiconductor, the world’s largest chip fabricator, in San Francisco federal court, at the U.S. International Trade Commission and in Taiwan district court. Taiwan Semiconductor filed suit against Semiconductor Manufacturing in San Francisco in December 2003, claiming that the company had misappropriated trade secrets, infringed several patents and had lured away its key employees. - ALM

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